Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Er, no.

She looked at me and smiled. 'I think you might want her to walk more than she wants to herself!'

My jaw dropped and I almost let go of the baby's hands. My little one had a look of gleeful concentration on her small face and was pulling me along, tugging at my fingers as her little legs trundled on, each foot taking one wobbly step at a time.

Let's think about that. Hmm. If I had a baby who would sit and play quietly with toys, wouldn't that be preferable? If I had a baby who could be put down with a book and left to turn those pages over and over, satisfied with her own company, wouldn't I just let her get on with it? If I had a baby who would take the cues from the time we turn her onto her tummy and follow her little push ups with attempts to move herself around, rather than turning onto her back and screaming, wouldn't I leave her to sort herself out on the floor? Do I like spending my time bent double, trying to stop Elsie ramming herself into sharp edges, trip over innumerable hazards and slide on slippery floors? Like hell I do.

The times that I've let her cry just a few more moments, in a vain attempt to show her she is her own person and can comfort herself; the times I've held myself back from rescuing her from a teary push-up, willed her to push herself along with her powerful legs; all those exercises and cheerful encouragement we've given her to stretch out and grab those toys that lie just a little out of reach... all these moments and more came flooding back as this woman looked at us and made her judgement.

Not all babies crawl. I didn't. I don't know what that means - which parts of my brain did not develop as they should because I didn't coordinate those particular muscles as others do. Perhaps crawling makes the connections in the brain that are necessary for NOT FREAKING OUT when 30 years later some stupid bint says you are forcing your daughter to do something she is not ready for.

Babies at this age are generally too young to walk. Agreed. But when this particular baby has sat and played for as long as she finds a particular toy interesting she has a little moan, reaches up and as soon as a hand is offered, she takes it, pulls herself up, and with a huge grin of pride, she steps out. She wobbles and she wavers. The helping hands are vital and on occasion they break her fall, but she is the driving force behind this movement. She wants to use her legs this way to explore and navigate. It has very little to do with what I want. Believe me.

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